by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
mobile phones, north korea, wireless


North Korea To Get 3G Network... Despite Mobile Phone Ban

from the how's-that-going-to-work? dept

You may recall back in 2004 that North Korea banned all mobile phones following a freakout after news of a train accident started to spread. Phones had started to become quite popular, especially with local businessmen (and even more so near the border where they would trade with the Chinese). However, for four years, mobile phones have been pretty much entirely banned. This was in striking contrast, of course, to South Korea, which has been on the leading edge of mobile phone technologies for a decade.

However, it looks like North Korea may have finally realized that mobile phones are somewhat useful. It's granted a license to an Egyptian company, Orascom Telecom, to develop a mobile network. Of course, Orascom may find it difficult to really attract that many users, as the service will only be authorized for purchase by top government and military officials. Can't let the riffraff chat with each other, of course. And, of course, there's always the chance that, once built, the North Korean government will just claim the network as its own. While perhaps this is a step towards more communication in North Korea, so far it looks like the plan is to only use it for the government.

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  • identicon
    General Eskimo, 18 Dec 2008 @ 12:36am


    Very interesting... but unfortunately, I don't see this going anywhere good. If the system is ever actually built, I believe that NK will simply nationalize it and use it for government purposes only. Even if they don't nationalize the network, it is likely that they will impose very strict controls and regulations on it, effectively making it another tool of suppression rather than communication. Plus, how much information about their country are they really going to let leak out anyway? I mean, Orascom will be lucky if they even get a map of the power grid there. I can just imagine NK just mailing them a topographical map and tell them to "get cracking".

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    illegalprelude, 18 Dec 2008 @ 1:16pm

    wow. Yea, like you said, with a government like N. Korea, how can that company be sure that they wont just take the network once its built. That would be a tricky deal to make that I would make sure, id be paid up front.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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